Can it Help Us Heal our Health Habits?
I finished a run last week and was holding a mocha from my fave coffee bar and pondering why my easy runs have been feeling so hard. Honestly, I didn’t have to look that far. I know why. I am not taking care of myself. Yes, I eat healthy and exercise daily. I’ve got those down. But my inner dialogue has not been peaceful. My sleep stinks. I’ve had one too many days of caffeine by day and wine by night. I’m not processing stress in a healthy way. And I’m not eating enough for how I train. Then there is the small matter that I am no longer in my 20’s (or 30s or 40s for that matter). I can no longer live on the physical edge and expect my body to perform. So it’s yelling back. Headaches. Brain fog. Irritability. Crappy workouts. Digestive issues. My under eye concealer is my best friend. Yes, I know why. And it occurred to me in that moment that what I needed was a body confession. I wanted the catharsis of sitting down and telling someone the ways that I am short-changing my own system. Not as a way to shame myself. In fact, just the opposite. We shame what we hide. Not what we share. If others shame us for what we share, it becomes their work to do. Not ours. I wanted to share it out loud. Get it outside of my own mind. A fresh start. A catharsis. An admission. Out of the dark and into the light.
Why does it work?
There is an interesting natural tension around confession. It looks something like this: Speech is powerful. Talk is cheap. If someone hurts us and confesses, but then continues with the behavior, what good is the confession? But what if they can’t recognize the hurt they cause at all? Then there isn’t even a chance that things can improve. When we keep unhealthy behaviors to ourselves, we send the roots deep under ground for sustenance. We give them power in the dark. It also creates cognitive dissonance when our internal reality strains against external expectations. We want to live in truth. We want to live openly. We want to be able to share our whole selves, including our struggles. That is the essence of health. When we speak out behaviors that need changing, we also create a kind of accountability to ourselves. It helps us take responsibility for our own health and wellness and can be the nudge forward we need.
I’m not suggesting you walk around telling everyone you see about your health behavior challenges. (That is a different issue for a different post 😉
Choose someone you trust that cares about you or get a group together where you all discuss what you want to change and create a support structure of accountability.
Be explicit about what behaviors you want to let go of and what you would like to develop in its place.
Also get very clear on why you are making this change now.
(Note: If you feel like you are struggling with an addiction or eating disorder, please seek professional help. If you need recommendations, feel free to message me privately).
If you are the listener in this scenario, simply hold space with the person talking to you. Listen with your heart. Be present.
Imagine what they might be feeling and reflect back what you are hearing them say. No solutions required. No witty response needed. Just be there with them.
And thank them for their courage and for trusting you with their thoughts and feelings.
Thank you for making space for mine.